Mattes, J.; Peter, F. & Farwig, N. (2016): <b>Seasonal variation in nutrient use of ants in natural and disturbed montane rainforests in Southern Ecuador</b> Philipps University of Marburg, Faculty of Biology, <i>master thesis</i>
Seasonal variation in nutrient use of ants in natural and disturbed montane rainforests in Southern Ecuador
License and Usage Rights:
PAK 823-825 data user agreement. (www.tropicalmountainforest.org/dataagreementp3.do)
Ant assemblages are sensitive to abiotic changes in the environment, therefore they are widely used as indicators of environmental changes. Previous studies demonstrated that abiotic changes with elevation and increased anthropogenic disturbance not only reduce species richness of ant assemblages, but also modify their trophic composition and nutrient use. In tropical ecosystems where nutrient availability may vary between dry and wet seasons, seasonal or interactive effects might play an important but still neglected role in shaping these patterns. Here I used standardized bait experiments in natural and disturbed sites along an elevation gradient in a tropical montane rainforest during the wet and dry season. In order to analyze the single and interactive effects of elevation, disturbance and season on species richness, nutrient use and trophic composition of ants, I used linear mixed effect models. Additionally, I used principal component analysis (PCA) to assess whether morphological traits of ants are linked to their nutrient use. Species richness decreased monotonically along the elevation gradient, with a stronger decline in the dry season. Forest disturbance had no significant effect on species richness. The relative use of most nutrients decreased with increasing elevation. Forest disturbance only affected the relative use of lipids by decreasing it compared to natural forests. However, my results revealed complex interactive effects of elevation, disturbance and season on species richness and the use of nutrients by ant assemblages. Furthermore, I found a shift from predominantly omnivore species to more predatory species with increasing elevation. PCA revealed a preference of lipid baits by species with morphological traits associated with predatory taxa. My findings highlight the importance of seasonality and mixed effects on the composition of ant assemblages and their nutrient use in a tropical montane forest. Additionally, these results highlight the value of disturbed forests within my study area, since they support similar species richness and trophic composition of ant assemblages compared to natural forests.
| Biodiversity | ant | elevational gradient | trophic composition | nutrient use |
Literature type specific fields:
Philipps University of Marburg, Faculty of Biology